Apple’s iBeacon Raises Critical Privacy Questions

Apple unveiled iBeacon last year, amid a lot of excitement. The technology promises to revolutionize the way businesses connect with customers. But it also threatens the privacy of the individuals.


iBeacon is essentially a tiny module that makes use of Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). Using BLE, it is able to send out tiny packets of data to any compatible device that is in range. The other device is then able to instantly receive the data packets.

It makes minimum use of the battery, so it is a highly efficient way of sending our brief bursts of content to devices within a given range. For instance, if a store is aiming at promoting an upcoming sales, it can use iBeacon to send a ‘Sale Coming Soon’ ad to all iBeacon-enabled devices that come within its range.

The only option a customer has is to either shut out iBeacon, and lose out on all possible content that his/her device may receive through the BLE connection, or keep it turned on and receive iBeacon-using content from everyone within the range of your device. Such strict settings create a lot of inconvenience for the users and it poses some critical privacy-related questions.

In its current form, iBeacon works in such a way that if all businesses in your locality make use of it, they will all be able to send you content on your handset. Such a huge barrage can impact the battery, even if every single message received using iBeacon makes little use of the battery. Moreover, it gives companies and businesses instant access to our handset.

The only way of making iBeacon usable and manageable is to offer a basic Settings panel where users can carefully control the number and kind of iBeacon connections they want to make. This will allow users to ward off commercial offers if they wish to keep such interruptions away from their smartphone screens.

Courtesy: Pop Sci

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Salman Latif is a software engineer with a specific interest in social media, big data and real-world solutions using the two.Other than that, he is a bit of a gypsy. He also writes in his own blog. You can find him on Google+ and Twitter .

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